In Search of History

I adore texture and, equally as important, texture making tools. Just when it seems like I have enough different tools to make impressions in clay I run across another one I just have to add to my collection!

I have long been a fan of the work of Michael Wisner and the simple yet amazing textured surfaces he creates. So, much a fan of his work that I had a demo of his imprinting technique on my beginning class’ project schedule for this past week.

It was just random chance that I happened to learn about the work of Kenneth Standhardt when scrolling through the explore tab on Instagram. Kenneth approaches his surfaces much in the same way that Michael does, but with even more amazingly intricate results. Unlike Michael who creates his own tools out of hacksaw blades, Kenneth uses mainly a common enough item – church key openers.

Using these everyday items, Kenneth creates patterns on patterns on patterns for an end result that defies explanation. I’ve shared a brief video of his process below so you can check it out for yourself!

Needless to say I am in the market for my very own church key opener – both the standard one that is widely available on the internet as well as the notched one. I expect I’ll be haunting thrift stores for the foreseeable future looking for that small piece of history.

Standhardt Studio from Engaging Media on Vimeo.

Unusual Tape

You may know that I recently have gotten really into using custom masking tape stickers to create texture on my mugs and planters. This mug is a little different. The tape I’m using to create the skinny lines of bare clay actually comes exactly this super thin width!

The moment I found this super thin tape at the store I knew I had to have it! I don’t think I even had any idea what I would do with it when I bought it at Daiso.

Weeks past and one day at the studio I was so over cutting out custom sized masking tape stickers. I wanted to stop for the day, but I still have a handful of mugs to sticker. That’s when I remembered this tape. It was so super easy to quickly add vertical lines of varying lengths around my remaining mugs.

I really love how this particular masking tape resist design turned out … which is nice since it’s so easy to do in comparison to other patterns!

Oh, and just what is this super skinny tape supposed to be used for when its not decorating mugs? It creates dividing lines on dry erase boards, pinstriping cars and other paint effects. Check out my other taped work available in my Etsy shop!

Toast

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Some people aren’t sure what to make of my plates when they first see them. Are they food safe? Would you even want to put food on them? Can they be cleaned? The answer to all of those questions is a resounding “yes!” My goal in creating my plates is to design and send out into the world functional art. Who says that plates have to be boring? \

All of that being said, I do tend to see my smaller plates as more dessert or appetizer plates and my larger ones as serving platters. One day I’ll get around to making an honest to goodness dinner plate sized ones … maybe a whole dinnerware set since that’s my long term goal, but I digress.

My view of my smaller plates changed forever this week when a friend of mine who recently acquired one of my smaller plates told me that it had become her “go-to” toast plate. Apparently, not only is it the perfect size for a small meal, the plate is rectangular so both pieces of toast fit fully on the plate without overlapping. As those of you who are toast lovers have probably experienced, once you put the toppings, be it avocado or jelly, on your toast you can’t overlap them without creating a bit of a mess. The rectangular shape solves that problem for you.

So there you have it – the perfect use for my plates: breakfast! It’s only fitting since that is my favorite meal of the day!

Check out the plate pictured and other perfect toast plates on my Etsy shop!

 

Sunflowers

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This is one of my favorite patterns! I think part of the reason I like it so much is that it is created entirely with my own handmade stamps. It’s actually made up of three separate stamps: 1) the center, 2) the petal and 3) the pinstripes. I like how big and full the flowers turned out – they really remind me of large oversized sunflowers. I love how they are so big that they dwarf the smaller sized planters I’ve created with this pattern.

This particular version of my sunflower planters is actually a glaze mistake. Shhh! Don’t tell anybody! I used an amber celadon on each of the sunflowers, but applied the glaze too thin. The end result is more of a leathery brown color than a high gloss amber. I think it works though. It color give the pot a nice, rustic feel and doesn’t compete with any plants that might get potted in it.

Sometimes a mistake is really a happy accident!

Check out all of the specifics of this planter and more in my Etsy shop!

Monday’s Muse – Linda Sikora

Sometimes you hear the exact right words at the exact right moment.

That’s what happened to me this past weekend. I follow a wonderful Instagram account called Pots in Action that is a community based feed connecting artists and art lovers. The other day they posted a video clip of Linda Sikora speaking at a recent ceramic workshop series.

Linda Sikora, “…It’s more important to keep paying attention and to follow your attention, than it is to think about meaning and content, because meaning and content come from paying attention to the world.”

This. Exactly this. You just have to keep showing up everyday to evolve.

Finds at Office Depot

I love finding things to use for my clay projects in unexpected places. Once you get started looking at things beyond their intended use the world of possibilities really opens up before you.

Take a recent trip to Office Depot. I’m at Office Depot all the time for boxes and to ship out customer orders, but every once in awhile I roam the aisles. That’s really one of my all time favorite things to do – roam the aisles!

Let’s start off with those items that are readily available in all manner of shapes, colors and sizes at office supply stores – rulers. These are a life saver when working in clay, particularly hand built work, since they can help you size work correctly, ensure straight cuts and make replication super easy. I personally are partial to translucent rulers since I can see through to where I placing the ruler easily.

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Office supply stores are great for beyond the basics rulers too like protractors for determining angle cuts, compasses for perfect circles and t-squares for easy right angle work. My absolute favorite is the flexible ruler pictured above on the far right. It’s bendy! Making it ideal to measure and mark distances on non-flat objects. Think about all of the time you spend eyeballing the center of a hump mold to place a foot – no more! I used to rely on string before I discovered bendy rulers. Fabric measuring tapes for sewing work great for this purpose too!

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You can also find great options for creating durable templates to help replicate your projects at office supply stores as well. Manilla folders or craft paper are perfect because they are generally inexpensive, but much more durable than newspaper for long lasting template creation. One of the best options for templates makes regular appearances in art supply stores, but can sometimes be found at Office Depot (at least mine has it) as well – foam sheets. The foam is thick, hard to rip and stands up extremely well to moisture. This is important if, like me, you use your favorite templates over and over in production.

Foam sheets also make great stencils since with their thickness they can leave a mark if rolled into the clay which leads us to another great find … hard plastic stencils!

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While certainly office supply stores don’t match the stencil selection of art supply stores, the ones they do have are extremely useful. Do you know how hard it is to find good options for transferring text to your pots?!

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Stencils are also great to use in conjunction with stickers!! Office supply stores have the absolute best selection of stickers, ahem, you might know they as labels. No there typically aren’t any dinosaurs available, but they sell all manner of basic shapes and sizes so you can create your very own designs. Stickers are a great tool to use when glazing your pots as demonstrated here.

In addition to circles and squares, most supply stores will have a great selection of letter and number stickers for business owners to use in making signs. Be sure to check out the sign section when there.

Last, office supply stores also have one of my absolute favorite things to purchase – very, very cheap plastic paint brushes. I know so many folks love to use fancy brushes for their work, but I find the cheap plastic ones great. Their bristles hold and retain their shape for getting into tight spaces when glazing. Also, I never feel bad about throwing away a cheap brush if it gets ruined. Although between you and me, my cheap brushes tend to hold up better than the more expensive ones!

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We won’t even get into all of the things found at office supply stores that would make absolutely great textures – I leave those for you to discover on your own!

Mated Pair

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This piece is from a series of work I created using shoe and foot prints collected from random folks during last October’s Downtown Redlands Art Walk. I call this one “Mated Pair” because a cute couple each pressed one foot print into the clay – His and Hers. It makes me smile!!

Don’t worry the firing process burns off any lingering germs!

Check it out in my online shop here!

Blowing in the Wind

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This piece is a great example of why I absolutely love, love, love using other people’s shoe prints to create my work. Who would have thought that a simple shoe print could convey movement? Who would have imagined that the addition of two relatively simple stamps could add the illusion on wind to this piece? Since when do shoe prints blow in the wind anyway?

Just the magic of getting out of my head and out of my own way – and random shoe prints do that so perfectly for me!

Check it out in my online shop here

Reaching Up

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It still amazes me.

I can spend all sorts of time on a texture pattern getting it just right as is with no color introduced. Then days pass as the piece dries and goes through its first firing.

That second time a piece is in front of me I’m removed from the pattern creation process and have to confront the work from almost a coloring book perspective. Similar to a coloring book there are an infinite number of ways I can go. Some are good choices, some are bad choices and all are removed in some way (big or small) from the pattern creation.

Completely transforming the work. Every. Single. Time.

It will always amaze me.

Learn more here

No Shoes Were Harmed

Last Friday night I set-up a table outside Artisans Etc in Big Bear and started rolling out slabs of clay. I was there to collect shoe prints from folks passing by and to give them a little introduction to the world of ceramics and texture.

There I sat there enjoying the cool mountain breezes, I reveled in the twists and turns that had brought me to that point where this was my job. Talking people into donating their shoe prints to one of my clay slabs is one of my all time favorite clay projects. The exercise is both a reminder of works past as well as a challenge to my normal thought process on my texture patterns.

I love the process of it – creating the work around the donated shoe prints is almost secondary. I had the pleasure of introducing adults to the childish pleasures of shoe print patterns. As I listened as one of them absolutely crowed with satisfaction over compliments to his, to that point ignored, shoe print, it was so wonderful to take in the joy that art and creativity brings to us as human beings.

To use that joy people have for learning that they too can create in my work is the best feeling. I thought I’d share a little peak into the plates I created that night with all of you and I’m pleased to note that no shoes were harmed in the process of making these plates.

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